Archive for June, 2014


Wildlife, So Far


Mule Deer, Mesa Verde National Park


Pinion Jay, Mesa Verde National Park.


Wild Horses, Mesa Verde National Park.


Elk, Chaco Culture National Historic Park.


Elk, Chaco Culture National Historic Park.


The United States is divided east and west by the Mississippi River, which also divides the animals into two groups as well.  Those from east of the Mississippi and those from west.  I have rarely been west of the Mississippi and have yet to identify some of these small birds like this one.  This photo was taken in Chaco Culture National Historic Park.


Navajo Ponies.  Near Chaco Canyon.


And some very colorful lizards, Chaco National Historic Park.


Campsite #10

Coarsegold, California.  I stayed at a KOA in Coarsegold, California for a night.  I finished my laundry and took a short trip into Yosemite National Park.  Temperatures in Coarsegold were still hot, but I secured a reservation for a campsite inside Yosemite for the following day.  Coarsegold is at about 2000 feet (about 650 meters) above sea level.  The campground I would be staying at in Yosemite was at 8600 feet (about 2500 meters) above sea level.


Campsite #9

Barstow, California.  Stopped at a KOA in Barstow, California for a night.  Temperature was at 107 when I got there.  Drove through Las Vegas around noon on I-15.  Interstate 15 runs east and west and connects Las Vegas and Los Angeles.  Barstow is about half way between them.  When I woke the next morning I pointed the vehicle north in hopes of getting out of the Mojave Desert and into the mountains where it would be cooler.


Campsite #8

Richfield, Utah.  I stayed for about eighteen hours at a KOA in Richfield, Utah.  Got some laundry done and tried to decide what to do next.  I had a nice shady site, which is good because the temperatures in Utah pushed a hundred degrees.  When I woke that morning I decided to push on into California to see if I could escape the heat.


Confluence Overlook Trail

When I arrived at Canyonlands National Park, I spoke with one of the rangers and she gave me some very good advice about hiking in the desert.  Carry water with you when you hike and carry something to snack on to keep your energy levels up.  She also told me about several of the trails I could hike as long as I could do ten miles (16 kilometers).  In the desert!  Um, sure!  I can do that!  My first thought was, I haven’t done ten miles since I’ve been having trouble with my knee.  Then she mentioned the name of one of the trails—The Confluence Overlook trail.


When the ranger mentioned the trail’s name, I knew I would be hiking it.  If you remember, when this trip began, I stayed at Wyalusing State Park in Wisconsin.  Wyalusing is located at the confluence of the Mississippi and Wisconsin rivers.  Then I drove down to stay at Pere Marquette State Park in Illinois, which is located at the confluence of the Mississippi and Illinois rivers.  The Confluence Overlook trail here in the Needles District of Canyonlands National Park leads you through the desert to an overlook of the confluence of the Colorado and Green Rivers.  I couldn’t pass on this hike because it seems confluences are a recurring theme to this trip.  The best part is, from the ground, this is the only way to see this particular confluence.  There is a four wheel drive road that leads you to a picnic table about a half mile from it.  I chose to hike.  Ten miles (sixteen kilometers) through the desert.


From the trailhead I hiked down into the canyon below, all the while thinking I would have to hike back up when I got back.  The temperatures at the bottom were very cool almost to the point of being cold, but I knew that would change so I pressed on.


I left on my hike very early in the morning, 6:00 AM my time.  The temperatures in the morning are not so bad and the first three hours were nice.  Flowers bloomed all along the trail as I hiked through canyons, rocky tops and the various cracks in the canyon walls that allowed me to pass from one canyon into another.


By the time I reached this grass-filled canyon, the temperatures had risen noticeably.IMG_8451a

The trail is marked with these piles of rocks known as cairns.  Following them isn’t difficult most of the time, but does require a lot of trust, which is what I thought about as I followed them.  I don’t trust government or politicians, yet the people who placed these cairns work for the government.  No government anywhere in the world truly cares for its people, they’re only trying to keep them happy or in-line for that day when they need them.  Politicians are the same way, they’re only trying to make you happy long enough to get your vote or to get your support.  And anyone who believes a government or a politician is the answer to their problems is only fooling themselves.  So why trust the employee of any government?


This district of Canyonlands National Park is known as the Needles.  While you hike up and down and through the canyons of the Confluence Overlook trail you will get dramatic glimpses of the various rock formations.  Maybe I trusted the employee of the government who placed these cairns because I believed that person saw the beauty in this place and wanted to lead me and those who follow to that beauty.


Including this rock formation which is visible, in the distance, from the slickrock trail.  The Confluence Overlook trail runs east and west, while the slickrock trail runs north to south.  The trailheads for these two trails are about five hundred feet (less than two hundred meters) apart.  So while hiking on the Confluence Overlook trail, you hike toward the rock formation, eventually passing it as you hike toward the confluence of the Colorado and Green rivers.  Then when you hike back toward the trailhead, you hike toward and pass this rock formation as well.


The Confluence Overlook trail in Canyonlands National Park is not for beginners.  The trail winds through the desert over rough and varied terrain.  It passes over and then through several canyon walls, climbing several hundred feet (100 meters or more) in some places, there are crevices to negotiate and some scrambling is required.  If you don’t already know what scrambling is before you hike here, don’t hike here.  The weather this time of year, by 10:30 AM is hot and keeps getting hotter throughout the day.  The ranger I spoke to on the first day told me to hike early in the morning and try to be done by 1:00 PM.  It was advice I heeded and I’m here to write to you today, so I would consider it good advice.


The reward for this difficult hike is the scenery.


And seeing a sight very few people have ever viewed.


The confluence of the Colorado and Green rivers.


Now all I had to do was hike back 5 miles (8 kilometers) through the desert.


Hiking Canyonlands

Canyonlands National Park is desert, so great care must be taken when choosing to hike here, especially now that the weather has turned hot.  Yep, it gets hot in the desert.  The Needles features many miles of hiking trails, too numerous for me to hike in a five day stay.  They range in length of a few hundred yards (meters) to as many miles (kilometers) as you can combine.  I am not a desert hiker and I know better than to disrespect nature, so I chose my day hikes carefully.


No matter, parking the truck and hiking into the desert is one of the things I have chosen to do.  My first hike involved a moderate trail called Slickrock.  I wanted to hike Slickrock as soon as I read it offered the best opportunity to see bighorn sheep.  I’ve already had one of my fans complain about me being in the desert because there is no wildlife to view.  Well there is, but this isn’t whitetail country and I don’t know how to find some of these animals I want to shoot.  So, as my complainer complained, it will probably be more rocks and sand to shoot.


But you have to admit, there are some rather beautiful rocks and sand here.


Especially this particular rock formation.  Don’t know its name but I’m sure it has one.  My second hike would have me hiking toward it, past it and beyond.


Besides, who says the desert doesn’t have any wildlife?  There’s plenty!


Why it’s know as the Needles, because these rock formations look like needles.  Slickrock was a beautiful hike, but I did not see any bighorn sheep.  There was one rock formation down in one of the canyons that fooled me at-first-sight, but when I photographed it and realized it wasn’t moving, I knew I had just taken a photo of a rock.  Oh well, better luck next time.


Morning Sunrise


Good morning, from Canyonlands National Park in Utah.

June 2014
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